Omega-3 and -6 Fatty Acids
- 11:12 pm,
- December 18, 2017
Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids can actually be the key to optimizing your health
Our bodies are capable of producing all the fatty acids it needs; however, except for the two we will mention: linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, in addition to alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. Both of these have to be consumed from the diet and they are called “essential fatty acids.”
Both the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids belong to a large subclass of polyunsaturated fats this is where the word 'essential' comes in because they are required for optimal health yet we cannot produce them in the body, as they must be obtained from diet. Their differences lie in their chemical structure and their roles in the body.
As polyunsaturated fatty acids, both the omega-6 and the omega-3 families have more than one double bond in the carbon chain. All fatty acids in the omega-6 family contain their first double bond between the 6th and 7th carbon atoms (counted from the methyl (CH3) terminal carbon atom and the omega-3 family of fatty acids have their first double bond between the 3rd and 4th carbon atom.
Both families of fatty acids are vital components of membranes and are used by the body in the production of eicosanoids, a vast range of highly bioactive substances (prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and lipoxins) but the activity of these metabolites varies. For example, the eicosanoids derived from omega-6 are in general more active (or reactive) than those produced from omega-3 and omega-6 is aggregatory whereas oega-6 is pro-aggregatory.
In otherwords, the omega-3s have anti-inflammatory benefits and help prevent heart disease, whereas omega-6s lower blood cholesterol and support the skin.
Like all fats, EFAs provide energy. Their calorific value is similar to other fats and oils but, unlike saturated fats, they have important health roles. In fact, as their title suggest, they are essential and must be consumed regularly as the body has limited storage for them.
Both of the important EFA families - omega-6 and omega-3 - are components of nerve cells and cellular membranes. They are converted by the body into eicosanoids, leukotrienes and prostaglandins - all of which are needed on a second-by-second basis by most tissue activities in the body.
Omega-3 and 6 Fatty Acids do have their purpose
- Regulating pressure in the eye, joints, and blood vessels, and mediating immune response
- Regulating bodily secretions and their viscosity
- Dilating or constricting blood vessels
- Regulating collateral circulation
- Directing endocrine hormones to their target cells
- Regulating smooth muscles and autonomic reflexes
- Being primary constituents of cell membranes
- Regulating the rate of cell division
- Maintaining the fluidity and rigidity of cellular membranes
- Regulating the inflow and outflow of substances to and from cells
- Transporting oxygen from red blood cells to the tissues
- Maintaining proper kidney function and fluid balance
- Keeping saturated fats mobile in the blood stream
- Preventing blood cells from clumping together (blood clots that can be a cause of heart attack and stroke)
- Mediating the release of inflammatory substances from cells that may trigger allergic conditions
- Regulating nerve transmission and communication
- If the diet is deficient in either omega-6 or omega-3 long-term degenerative illnesses will result.
Where to get Omega 3 fats:
Cold water fish, tuna, cod liver, halibut, herring, mackerel, trout, salmon, sardines.
Where to get Omega 6 fats:
Sunflower seeds, seed oils, corn, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, nuts, meat, dairy products.
Before running to the vitamin store we encourage you to test for Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids by doing a simple blood test. Once you know if you’re deficient you can discuss the next steps with your doctor regarding supplementation if needed.